Like many people, my relationship with my father has been a complex one. Or atleast, for the sake of telling a story in a storylike way it is best to describe the relationship that way. One cannot deny its complexity, which I alone can verify in any case. The complexity of our relationship comes from both of us being objects of fascination to each other, often becoming caricatures of our roles as daughter and father. But not the good sort of caricatures of daughter and father but the poor sort, one always lacking in feature to be the good sort.
The good sort I believe comes to some use as reference in this particular tale of telling. The sort that has acquired the cringworthy comparison of Princess and Hero. Daughters as princesses and fathers as heroes of the daughters who are princesses. The reason I say this may be a useful point of reference is not to simply signify that my relationship with my father is far from any princess-hero rubbish, which it most certainly is- far from, that is. In an odd sense of term however this father of mine has played a particular kind of hero in many stories I have told. Mainly because it is the hero himself who has narrated many of the stories I simply repeat- and admittedly not relayed that they were all from another source. With this attribution, I must comment on how many times heroes narrate their own stories as heroes. One may say that this is a particular trait of heroism- to sing of one’s own valour, lest another may hesitate.
My father is a gifted storyteller. In that, I have secured my opening line to a story of my own telling which characterises him as the storyteller. This ploy has worked one too many times if I may say so myself. To what may face some derision if he were to be in the know, everytime I use this ploy it is to cast this father of mine as the unfortunate anti-hero to justify my politics. He becomes a villainous casteist, the ‘benevolent oppressor’, the misogynist, the patriarch, the manipulator and the easily manipulated. Now you see what I mean by not fitting into the princess caricature. At this point, my father who is a gifted storyteller would turn up his nose and tone filled with condescension point out to me that a story written in complicated sentences cannot be much of a story at all. Which mine are. His stories are long and end in other stories, but one may notice that his sentences are not long. They also have that particular feature of daddies who are heroes and are not, where the sentences trail when imbued with some emotion. To find completion would be horrendous and end in abrupt tellings of tales.
As the object of my stories, this father has played hero in all stories where I make a case against said heroism. I imagine that in all his long hours alone at home, he spins tales of me as the object of his stories as well. A princess who is anything but. He must in his long stories put me in various scenarios where I have not been a princess to illustrate how I must not be seen as one. In these tales I imagine, that as a gifted storyteller with an immense talent for description he will dress me in flowery pants and red lisptick. My red lipstick has become a source of some worry to him. The flowery pants were a mistake he made on my 10th birthday. In these tales he concocts while sitting on the dull grey sofa cover he chose, I must have long arguments about communism, economics and the best way to cut mangoes in the English he resents my command over.
The few times our eyes meet reluctantly over discussing steel plates at lunch, our individual tales of princesses and heroes collapse into the mindless mundane. My relationship with this father of mine is complex I imagine, because we are used to our distaste of each other in flowery pants and misogynist triumph.